Grammar Cop’s guide to sidewalk etiquette

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Illustration by Georgia Hatchett

Hi there. Grammar Cop here. You know, the asshole who corrects you when you say something moronic like, “Nicky just invited Becka and I to an exclusive afterparty,” unaware that the correct form is “Becka and me” because you are referring to yourself as the object of the sentence, not the subject. Would you ever say, “Nicky just invited I to an exclusive afterparty”? No, you wouldn’t, but that’s neither here nor there because sentence structure is way over your head, you babbling buffoon of a bumpkin. 

Today, I write to you not about grammar but instead of a rather important public setting where you’ve been fucking up. The issue at hand is the sidewalk. That’s right: You’re doing the sidewalk wrong.

I see a lot of people walking on the left side of the sidewalk lately, often with their nose buried in their phone, oblivious to the world around them, bumping face-first into yours truly, and it burns my bunghole. Be aware of the people around you. If everyone walked on the right-hand side of the sidewalk, in either direction, we wouldn’t have all these awkward fucking encounters when YOU ARE WALKING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE FUCKING SIDEWALK. The solution is simple: Stay to the right, avoid an ugly confrontation.

In America, we drive on the right-hand side of the road. Always. Use this as an analogy for how to use the sidewalk, the crosswalk, the hallway, push your shopping cart in the grocery store, what-have-you. One-way streets don’t count; sidewalks are always two-way. Even if you’ve never driven a car, you’ve ridden in plenty of them and are capable of grasping the concept. Vehicles driving in through-traffic don’t yield to those attempting to enter traffic; it’s the other way around, blunderbuss. There should be turn signals and brake lights on those fucking shopping carts, by the way. As if you could be bothered to use them.

Additionally, when you are walking down the sidewalk with your friends and you are all side-by-side and taking the whole fucking sidewalk, MOVE THE FUCK OVER for people passing in the opposite direction. Don’t be rude. Don’t be ignorant. Just move. The fuck. Over. Share the road. Once more, be aware of the people around you and the impact of your actions, you self-absorbed ignoramus.

And another sidewalk issue—I’m almost done: Don’t ride your fucking bike on the sidewalk. It’s called a sidewalk, not a sideride, flapjacks. You are in the most bicycle-friendly city in the nation. RIDE IN THE FUCKING STREET. YOU HAVE YOUR OWN FUCKING LANE in many streets. Nothing says rube like riding your bike on the sidewalk in Portland.

But wait, there’s more. For those thoughtful imbeciles generous enough to share their cherished music with the world via tiny, tin-sounding speakers they carry around, NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR YOUR FUCKING MUSIC. They’re called earbuds. Cost about two bucks. Check ‘em out.

Here’s one for the fellas—the older fellas in particular: When hanging out on a park bench or at a bus stop or wherever you loiter in public because you seem to have all fucking day, KEEP YOUR FUCKING COMMENTS TO YOURSELF. That attractive female walking past already knows she has a nice smile or pretty eyes or whatever and does not need you to offer your unsolicited compliments. All you are doing is pissing her off or making her uncomfortable. You are a stranger. This is a big city where people have come from all over. No one owes you a response to your unwanted, unwarranted judgements. Resist the urge and shut your pie hole.

And another thing: I know that adorable service dog that just had the audacity to enter your line of sight is so, so cute, but that dog has an important job to do and does it with amazing stoicism despite your blubbering faun act. LEAVE THE FUCKING SERVICE DOG ALONE to do its job. Contrary to popular opinion, the universe does not revolve around you, princess.

Finally, to all the lovely cigarette smokers of the world: Be aware of the direction of the wind when you take your ten-minute break to inhale some delicious nicotine, hydrogen cyanide and formaldehyde. Since there are approximately zero places for smokers to enjoy their refreshing addiction indoors these days—beyond the occasional casino—instead you have all decided to congregate in the doorways and on the park benches of every fucking sidewalk I’m trying to pass without BREATHING YOUR FUCKING CIGARETTE SMOKE. Nothing brings a brighter start to my day than a mouthful of that filthy shit you just exhaled from your own cancer-laden, cavernous carcass.

I respect your constitutional right to smoke cigarettes and support that right. Just do it somewhere I don’t have to breathe it because it fucking stinks and it tastes like a toilet. Smoke downwind. Save a life. Perhaps your own.

And, by the way, Portland State is a non-smoking campus, nincompoop.

Follow these simple sidewalk etiquette guidelines, and you might just make a contribution to world peace, or at least make someone’s day a little less crappy.

That is all. Now, take it from your curmudgeonly friend Grammar Cop and have a nice fucking day.

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